Thursday, May 8, 2014

All in all, what did this semester of looking at the works of Suzanne Collins bring?

The trilogy she has adeptly put together seem to be more than just books. They are windows to the world that we see today, only in a different light.

For example, we can see the advancement of technology going sour and ultimately leading to unjust uses, such as for surveillance and oppression. There is a clear boundary between an evil act and an evil person, and that could classify some characters in places which we would not normally expect them on the good to evil spectrum. Haymitch may fall over the stage in the masterpiece of a novel, yet the director may cut his glorious act from the media representation.

This view has also taught how some actions taken by the characters lead to the reactions by others and overall building of the plot. For example, Katniss' statement about Rue and her performance in the Games may mean something psychologically to their family, but it can also mean something political to Snow and his reign over the Districts.

Ultimately, as Haymitch would say, 'Cheers!' (or more realistically, 'realize the inevitable finish of your blog-writing... then take a drink.')

Saturday, April 26, 2014

"All that it takes for evil to flourish is for a good man to do nothing."

"Now, that homework assignment was just pure evil."

"This sandwich tastes like evil."

The term evil is tossed around lightly nowadays. People seem to have lost the meaning of it as time passed and more laws were put into place and enforced adequately.

However, there is no 'one definition' for the word evil. There are evil acts and there are evil people. As Dr. Joshua Baron discussed: "To perform an evil act is to perform an act that causes harm to others.To be an evil person is to perform these acts as a result of extreme apathy toward others’ humanity."

So, who can be classified as truly evil within the Hunger Games trilogy? The obvious answer is President Snow. He hates the humanity of his citizens, mainly because that would give them the power to rise up and overthrow the already fragile system he has in place. (Quote the movie: "They're holding hands. I want them dead.")

(And this guy is supposed to be the tiny master of evil)

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Do I personally believe in an apocalypse, or an event of the sort occurring? Yes, yes I do.

Now why is that? I believe that our usage of resources at the rate at which we are will deplete the planet of its ability to sustain us, and thus fall into a state of barren wastelands. In turn, the human world will disintegrate as people fell into anarchy over supplies and goods... similarly to the scenario presented in the Hunger Games, albeit not as extreme.

This is known as a type of millenialism called environmentalism, where the problem would grow from either natural disasters or a disparity within our needs and the resources our surroundings.

As we continue our current usage of materials, especially when focusing on luxury and what we want rather than necessity and what we need, more people will need more resources with the population exploding. After that, prices will rise gradually, but to a great extent, and the amount of people who are able to buy goods and services will diminish greatly. There will be rising complaints in regards to the prices until people are out of the run in affording supplies like food and water until riots occur. Then, government will disintegrate and someone with military force will have to take the reins until... The Hunger Games takes place.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

In the movie Children of Men, the focus is on a former activist (Theo) as he escorts and protects a pregnant woman (Kee) across the U.S, a country at this time barren and deep into chaos as infertility has dimished the human population for 18 years. The U.K seems to be the only functioning nation where most go to escape the violence, thus this was their goal. While they do reach the base, the fighting comes to them as they prepare for embarking the Tomorrow, and Theo is shot. Finally, Kee gives birth to a baby girl, who she names Dylan. This shows light and hope amidst a storm of chaos and war.

So what might seem similar here to the Hunger Games? Dylan seems to be the Mockingjay here, where she is the symbol of hope and retribution, even moreso, the symbol of the rebirth of what seems to be the remnants of planet Earth. While Dylan is only born once, Katniss goes through numerous 'rebirths' to become the symbol of the rebellion that she became by the end of book 3. The fact that both characters exist creates beacons of hope in their respective stories, where Dylan signifies the end of Human sterility in the otherwise barren world Earth became, and Katniss signifies the end of Human oppression in the ravaged, post-apocalyptic world that Panem became.

There are quite a few themes throughout literature that have stood against the tests of time. One could be the the animal familiar, who through all events would faithfully follow the main character until the end of time or its untimely demise (whichever comes first). Another could be the theme of wearing the enemy's skin, to delve into their world and attempt to analyze why they do what they do, possibly to be a set-up for playing the devil's advocate.

Suzanne Collins includes quite a few of these within the Hunger Games series, starting with the shapeshifter. One really never knows which side he or she will be on, so how can one rely on their status? Plutarch Heavensbee fits this description, because he is working under the control of President Snow as the Head Gamemaker for the Hunger Games... however, it seems that what he tells President Snow could both kill and help Katniss at the same time... which one would he be? (of course, we find that he is on the side of the Rebels).

There also two wildly different worlds, involving a clash between the two. This seems awfully fitting for the world of the Capitol (panem et circensis, or bread and circuses) and the Districts (frigida re vera, or cold reality). The whole conflict of the series seems to grow from the differences between the two worlds, as well as the class struggle caused by them.

Lastly, we have a dark night of the soul, where a decisive moment occurs that shapes the character's life thereafter. For Katniss, it is in Mockingjay, where she makes the decision to kill President Coin first, rather than President Snow. This was after realizing the animosity that she had shown her own rebels, as well as the strict dictator-y way of handling power and authority (seriously, she needs to loosen her corset and take a drink). She decides to stop what would seem to be a repeat of the tyranny that Panem faced under Snow's reign.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

What truly makes a leader? Is there a specific formula? Is it easy or hard?

Luckily, Dr. Casey, President of McDaniel College, was able to help us answer those questions.

One of the main traits of a successful leader involves the ability to take a fall and recover. Not only recover, but also to learn from their mistakes. If we take a look at a few leader-figures within the Hunger Games trilogy (namely, Snow, Katniss, and Coin), we can clearly see that Snow and Coin, the dictatorial figures, have a tendency to fear failure, as it would potentially result in the relinquishing of their power. The successful leader, Katniss, seems to make mistakes and pay for them dearly; however, while she does seem to fall to a low every time, she can pick herself back up and keep rising to the occasion.

Another important trait would involve a large amount of stamina, which means the ability to go about daily life whilst assuming your role of authority any time you would be required to. As Haymitch said, "you NEVER get off this train" to Katniss as she realized what her role as victor truly meant. A proper leader in this sense would be able to keep up with that, as in even in a grocery store if someone were to approach you with some sort of question in regards to the condition of the state (college, nation, etc.), you would be able to answer it. Katniss would be able to speak for the people as needed, especially during the propos, even when people within the hospital got blown up, which indeed struck Katniss both mentally and emotionally.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

The Hunger Games is not a world all it's own. It has concepts from other tales, ideas seen within modern day antics, and above all, a lesson to tell that has been repeated many times for our own common good.

In considering one prominent event that may mark these years for many decades to come, what does the Arab Spring have to do with the Hunger Games? In his talk, Dr. Shibley Telhami made some interesting points that could link the two very well.

One key ingredient in the recipe of revolution, as Dr. Telhami mentioned, is a strict government control of the flow of information. Beforehand most people within the areas effected by the Arab Spring would have mentioned that their leading source of news was government-regulated television networks and programs, which clearly do not show the people the truth of their oppression. What about the people of Panem? All they see are the countless videos of propaganda, with the so-called 'ruins' of district thirteen and the victory of the Capitol, as well as the brutality of the Hunger Games, all behind the thin, opaque veil of the contest for glory, honour, and prizes. After the Spring, most people would mention that their news came from elsewhere, as in international sources. Panem's citizens had no other nation to go to; however, it is assumed that most of the government-mandated television would be ignored or seen through.

Dignity is also the word with these two scenarios. The people of Panem want to be viewed as competant citizens who work and uphold normal lives every day, to even secure glory for themselves and be recognized within the country. This is not much different from the revolting people of the Middle East. They did not want to be seen as yet another component of their dictatorships' regimes. Instead of 'sucking up' to the Western powers, they wanted to stand on their own, much to the economic demise of nations such as ours. In this case, both the people of Panem and the people of the Spring, want karam, or dignity.

"You are what you have to defend."
-Dr. Shibley Telhami

Sunday, March 9, 2014

When one thinks of culture, a new realm opens, with practices and understandings that cannot merely be seen from the surface. There is food, there is religion, there is a plethora of other things within culture that encourage people to band together and express their common beliefs, views, and actions. One in specific though is music. Song and dance to a culture is like bread and butter to the essential mealtime. Since the beginning of human development, there have been bards and muses, there have been oral traditions handed down from generation to generation (think of the epics).

Within the world of Panem, song and dance holds an important role in the life of the citizens, as well as those in the luxurious Capitol. There are three main songs mentioned within Suzanne Collins' trilogy, one of them being "The Hanging Tree."

How would one find the significance of this song? Think about the power of the words within, dark and bloodstained enough to paint a vivid picture of murder and suicide. This causes Katniss to essentially 'ban' the song, at least around her. This shows it holds a some sort of power over her.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

The World of the Hunger Games is set within what seems to be a post-apocalyptic realm in North America, where a centralized, highly-oppressive government grips it's people- the people of the Districts- within it's iron fist.

In a sense, this should seem or feel familiar, yes?

The element is Dystopia. That is basically the polar opposite of utopia, where human depression, enslavement, and rigid control are emphasized over free thought, quality of life for all, and happiness over order. The Capitol government is what represents this overbearing leadership, and at it's head, President Snow, creating an almost Big Brother-ish feel.

There is a heavy haze created in the book which hangs low over the characters' heads, where the mere mention of anything outside of a certain boundary could lead to death, if worse, the nightmare of being trapped within the Hunger Games for the rest of their lives.

As Haymitch always said: "You never win the Hunger Games."

It would take an arrow-through-the-force-field-with-lightning-and-blow-everything-the-crap-up epic in order to break free of the regime. I mean, come on. If you wanted to leave Panem, where would you go? No other place existed in the time of this novel.

Especially as seen within the book Catching Fire, President definately gives the appearance of Big Brother, seeing as he was able to watch almost every move Katniss made, in public and in private. Spooky, huh?

One would not want to live in this world due to the power of the Capitol, but that is the point. It is a dystopia!

Even moreso, this seems to be supported by Tom Henthorne, someone who analyzed the Hunger Games series. He notes on how there is a lack of information on how Katniss, the voice of the story, has almost no clue about the true history of the Capitol and of Panem overall. On top of that, the reality that Katniss faces in Panem causes her to reject the idea of bringing any children into the world, so she may not subject any more human beings to the living torture that she faces.

Apart from Katniss, Henthorne mentions something crucial: the ability of the mass media to control others. This is done primarily through the televising of the Hunger Games. That gives people something to hope for, for the glory and prizes of their district to win, rather than the emptiness to focus on and think about their overall welfare, and how unjust it is.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

With each work Suzanne Collins brings to life, a new world is opened, one expanding from the previous adventures of our favourite little rebel girl, Katniss Everdeen (a.k.a the Girl on Fire; a.k.a the Mockingjay; a.k.a the protagonist). However, do I believe that one of them reigns supreme?

The battle of the books (in certain cases, movies) was well fought, yet the final two contenders of the Mockingjay triad were Catching Fire and the Hunger Games.

Ultimately in the end, the first book took the prize. It had the amazing exposition, which when stretched throughout the novel did a fantastic job of setting the scene for the bloody rebellion that was to follow, and the freedom won from it. On top of that, we really get to see the process of Katniss' growth, instead of just the result seen in Catching Fire.

But even better... We see Haymitch in his prime as he takes a face plant on the stage.

May the odds be ever in your favour.

Right, the old cat was much cuter, too.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Once again we are brought to the supposed bridge of the cinema, from the literature to your imagination. Yet once again, we are brought to some disparities or additions that may have changed the inflection the movie has produced on the words of the novel.

Once again, Haymitch takes center stage, where he is meant to be. There is nothing that he doesn't do in this case. Rather, an addition would stir the dust of mystery and add to the tension leading up to the grim climax of Catching Fire.

What he does is throw his glass.

Now, why is this significant? This is in response to President Snow announcing that the 'tributes this year shall be reaped from the existing pool of victors.' Once again, a simple angry reaction may not seem significant at a glance, but there are quite a few implications in regards to what he does.

One of his primary goals is to keep Katniss alive, due to primarily assumed planning between himself and Plutarch Heavensbee, the head gamemaker within the book and film, to use her as the figurehead of the rebellion against the Capitol, as seen in Mockingjay. However, there is another view to this anger. Despite the fact that Katniss will go back into the arena regardless of what happens (as she is the only female victor of 12), Haymitch also has a chance of going back into the Hunger Games. He has taken up drinking and a careless attitude towards most of the people with whom he interacts, but could this mask a true mental and emotional scarring brought on by the second Quarter Quell, which he won? Could this be out of anger for Katniss? Selfish anger for himself? Potentially both?

Sunday, February 9, 2014

   From pen on paper, to the clicking of a keyboard, to the whir of
printers amidst a massive factory, to a man on a set yelling "ACTION!" The vision Suzanne Collins has is now brought to life on the big screen for all to see her story of Katniss visually represented. Although, one can sense a game of telephone as the story gets interpreted farther from the original. The first movie, 'The Hunger Games,' has some clear instances of these deviations.

   The first to look at is the absence of drunken antics within the beginning of the movie, where the Reaping occurs. One can see a morose Peeta Mellark, and an almost-shattered Katniss Everdeen (stepping in for her sister) as they take the stage, but something is missing....

Where is Haymitch?

No stumbling across the stage, no cursing at the nerve of the Capitol, no nothing. We fail to get a glimpse into the life of the man who holds the Mockingjay's life in his hands until the third book. We fail to get a moment of comedic relief within the shadow of the storm that is to come. Ultimately, we fail to see a man in his moment of shining glory. Lesson learned, never. Never. Never. Never. Exclude Haymitch.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

(Above and Below) See the similarity?
   When one thinks of the Hunger Games, they imagine the groups of emaciated children forced into an arena to fight to the death for the entertainment of the Capitol, and to remind the districts of Panem that the power of the Capitol is supreme. There is; however, more than meets the eye. Collins drew her inspiration from multiple places, not just gladiators within an arena or dystopian masterpieces by previous authors. One of which was Greek Mythology. More specifically, Theseus and the Minotaur.

   The story of Theseus starts with the origins of the Minotaur, created when a bull (sent by Zeus) mated with a Greek Queen, then trapped into a winding labyrinth when Minos, the King of Crete (and husband of the Queen) discovered the creature. After Minos captured Athens, he then vowed to destroy the beast. Thus, instead of sacrificing his own men and women, he decided he would sacrifice seven boys and girls from Athens every nine year, who would be thrown into the labyrinth to fight

the minotaur. One time, a young man named Theseus stepped up to offer himself as a tribute, intending to kill the Minotaur. He succeeds, ultimately becoming the King of Athens after a while.

   Does any of this seem familiar? Theseus basically "volunteers as tribute," albeit not to protect his little sister named after a flower. He participates in what is essentially an ancient Greek Hunger Games, where children are forced into an arena in order to fight to the death. Theseus also succeeds, essentially beating the 'Hunger Games,' which mirrors Katniss and her victory over the system within Catching Fire. Theseus and the daughter of Minos also mirror Katniss and Peeta within the arena, minus the fact that Minos' daughter even started genuinely loving Theseus (and that she could not participate within the arena).

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

It may almost seem arcane... the Capitol of Panem. It's a two-faced beast, a lullaby of cocktails and champagne to it's own, but the roar of gunfire and the cracking of whips to the citizens it claims to protect. It can crown you as a great king. It can swipe your breath from you with as much as a passing shadow. One district has already 'fallen' to it's power, and another is next.

Despite his background in one of the most desolate, desperate areas of Panem, one man has found his way of coping with the iron fist that grips his nation in a choke-hold.

Haymitch Abernathy is a man to marvel at during the length of the Hunger Games series (by Suzanne Collins). He is a veteran of the system, winning the Hunger Games during the Second Quarter Quell (50th anniversary of the Hunger Games), and mentoring countless other children from District 12 as they rise from the Reaping, essentially becoming tributes to the slaughter. He was the man who taught and fought for the victors of the 74th Games, Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark, before and during their time in the arena. Moreso, he has the knowledge of what land mines to avoid, politically as well as legally, to be able to maintain a peaceful existence within Panem. This comes with a price though, as most can see the aftereffects of the Games on his problematic addiction to alcohol comsumption.

"Nobody ever wins the games. Period. There are survivors. There's no winners."
-Haymitch Abernathy, Catching Fire
Since finding the name of the course on Archway, and reading the books myself after discovering a close friend was attending the SIS, I found myself quite attached to the Hunger Games series. I feel that the books (not forgetting the movies) provide one hell of a thrill to the reader, constantly engaging their senses with the thrill of the hunt, combined with the danger of being hunted. Collins illustrates each scene so precisely and adeptly that I feel as if I am either in the Games arena, or looking through the eyes of Katniss herself.

There are many interesting concepts within the series, each lying within its own realm, yet connected by one medium: The Hunger Games. Whether it is the politics of the Capitol, behind closed doors or open to the public, strategy employed by each Tribute (especially with the Careers) in the arena, even the interpretations of every subtle move made by the Girl on Fire herself, Collins spares no expense as she delves into connecting many different fields. To discover these is to look into the mind of the one who created this masterwork, and to bring even more value to literary works that have already shaped the world of literature.